Neelum-Jhelum, Tarbela hydro projects likely to start working by early 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Two hydel power projects, 969 MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydel Power Project (NJHP) and 1,410 MW Tarbela 4th Extension project, of total 2379 MW capacity are scheduled to start electricity generation by February.

Currently, work on the two plants is in full swing and it seems they will be able to start electricity generation by February 2018.

The progress achieved so far on civil and electro-mechanical works on the both the project has brought positive signs towards the target of addition of cheap hydel power into the national grid system at full capacity.

According to officials at the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), the pace of work on both hydel power projects is continued on a swift pace to complete the project in accordance with deadlines.

They said that the first unit of NJHP will start generating electricity generation by February 2018; the second unit in mid-March; and the third and the fourth units will be completed in April 2018.

The work on NJHP water reservoir will start in October; waterway system (tunnels diverting water from dam to power house) is scheduled to be completed by end of December 2017; pressurising the waterway system will start in January 2018, while wet-testing commissioning of the power generating units will commence in February 2018.  The excavation of 68-km-long tunnels had already been completed one month ahead of the schedule, said WAPDA officials.

Sharing details about 1,410 MW Tarbela project, the officials said around 90 per cent work has already been completed so far and its first unit will be ready for power generation by February 2018, second by April 2018 and the third by May 2018. They said dry-test of the project is likely to be conducted in December while wet-test in January 2018.

The work on transmission line to disperse electricity from Tarbela hydel power station to the national grid is being actively carried out.  Similarly, three units of 470 MW each will be installed at the power house to enhance the total electricity generation to 4888 MW from the existing 3478 MW, officials said.

It is worth mentioning that adding these three units will produce cheap hydropower at a time when electricity needs would be at peak in hot and humid weather.

Tarbela 4th Extension Project is estimated to cost $ 920 million and the project will pay back its cost in three years, while annual benefits of the project have been estimated at around Rs30.7 billion.

The World Bank had provided $ 840 million for the Tarbela extension project while Water and Power Development Authority arranged the remaining $80 million.

Similarly, the cost of Neelum-Jhelum project has increased to Rs 500 billion. The cost estimates for NJHP had been jacked up four times, since 2002, from Rs84.5bln. Once, it was revised to Rs277.5bln in 2012 to accommodate changes in design and geography caused by 2008 earthquake in AJK. This was followed by revised cost approval of Rs404bln in 2015 and now in 2017 the cost is estimated at Rs500bln.